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Graham Hickling

Elected 2003

Graham joined club in 1958 as an 8 year old. He played in a team of boys who were coached by Dick Whittington right through until moving into senior football in 1967. Graham was selected in Hutt Valley under 14 and 16 age group teams.

He went on to play mainly second team football, although he did make 5 Central League appearances. In later years Graham played mainly in the Pet Shop Boys social team, but his playing days were cut short by a knee injury.

Graham started coaching as a 17 year old in 1967, taking a team from under 7year olds until they moved into senior football. This team won 3 championship titles and produced six 1st team players with over 500 1st team appearances among them, three National League players, two New Zealand age group representatives, and one All White. He took the team on a couple of end of season trips for up to a week and also helped out with a combined team, which travelled to Australia.

In 1967, Graham also joined the Junior Management Committee (JMC), following in his father’s footsteps. He remained on the JMC until the end of the 1973 season. He helped out in the annual bottle drives, distributing flyers, collecting the bottles from properties, and then sorting them the next day. Until 1970, Graham cycled everywhere: whether it was to senior training twice a week, coaching juniors once or twice a week (with a bag of balls on the bike), to meetings, or (as results officer) ferrying the club’s result sheet to the Hutt Valley FA secretary in Naenae each week for 3 years.

From the mid-1970s, Graham also coached two other teams. One of these was for 3 years, starting off as 13year olds. Four of this team went on to play a combined 300 games for the 1st team and two went on to play for New Zealand. He was also manager of our 1979 Junior National Cup winning team, which included several players from the teams he had coached.

Graham was elected onto the Management Committee for the first time in 1975, and the following year was elected club captain, a position he held through to the 1978 season. He was well-suited to this role as he moved easily among players and officials alike.

In 1976, the Management Committee contracted Graham to build the clubrooms inside the gymnasium. He was involved with the planning, drawings, and then construction. Graham’s skills were invaluable in building this “2nd stage” of our facilities, and he achieved this on weekends and at night, while continuing to play and coach.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Graham was responsible for organising working bees and undertaking a lot of improvements and maintenance around the clubrooms, in contrast to the lack of willingness to help out that to a large extent characterises the scene today. One of the largest working bee projects was replacing the cladding on the high level exterior of the gym – a project that lasted a month.

Another project in which Graham played a leading role was the design and installation of the No. 3 pitch floodlights. The installation involved three weeks of digging trenches for the cables, concreting the foundations, installing the poles, and fitting the lights – all achieved by club members.

Graham has always been one to get stuck in on a variety of tasks, big and small. He helped out inter alia with: the Hilton –Petone Tournament, manning the charge gate at various venues including when we used to have the finals at the Basin Reserve; repairs and maintenance of just about everything in the clubrooms and the gymnasium; and manning the door for club functions.

Graham was elected onto the management committee each year from 1979 until 1983. He then had one year as 1st team manager before stepping down from official roles. From 1990, he took time away to focus on his property in Otaki. When in 1995 he returned to the club, he was elected back onto the Management Committee and was re-elected each year until he signalled his unavailability at the end of the 2002 season.

In 2003, Graham was elected a Life Member in recognition of both the extent and the intensity of his contribution both while an elected club official for 20 years and in other years; a junior coach for more than 10 years; and a player for some 27 years. Graham has always been a major contributor to the club, undertaking so many tasks and usually in the background, often on his own, and out of the limelight.

Over the past 9 years, Graham has not been an elected official, preferring to focus his contribution in areas where his expertise and knowledge is most invaluable: in maintenance, repairs, and over the past year particularly with the specifications and construction of the Honours Boards and Timeline boards.

Graham really enjoys supporting the 1st team each week, the 2nds (when he can) and the under 19s, of which he has been a follower over many years. Having a good talk after the game with all the other old timers (and other privileged people) is something he really looks forward to, but unfortunately only after having to help pull down the nets and goalposts.

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